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The rice paddies of Mai Chau flit seasonally between green and gold, carpeting the ground between its villages. These are the workplaces of some of Vietnam’s ethnic minorities – the Thai, the H’mong, and the Dao, each comprising the diverse population of Mai Chau in a cultural fabric woven as intricately as their brocades.
The location of Mai Chau, only three hours from Hanoi, provides the ideal counterpoint to a bustling metropolis in the grip of modernization. This fruitful valley is the picture of Vietnam’s agricultural traditional vibrant world of gorgeous simplicity and stagnant time. This is a great place for a short hideaway from Hanoi’s hustle, which helps you get a closer touch with the Northwest of Vietnam.
The Pu Luong limestone landscape is an area of outstanding beauty, cultural interest, and high biodiversity value, stretching from Mai Chau in the North to the west to Cuc Phuong National Park in the Southeast. It is blessed with rich forests, limestone panoramas, magnificent rice terraces, and breathtaking scenery.
Pu Luong Nature Reserve, established in 1999, is roughly 170km from Hanoi. Being a nature reserve with a total area of 17,662 ha, the primary tropical forest covers 3/4 of it. This is also a living place for ethnic Muong and Thai people. Pu Luong means the highest peak of the village in the Thai language.
What to Expect
07:00 – 07:30 Pick-up from your hotel or private address in Hanoi and departure to Mai Chau, Hoa Binh.
09:30 – 10:00 Arrive at Thung Khe Pass, the beautiful scenery Pass (One of the 10 most beautiful passes in Vietnam).
11:00 -11:30 Enjoy a special lunch with the local cuisine featuring the yin-yang balance of the Asian culture at Bó Luông Restaurant. After lunch, we will be continuing the journey of exploration in Mai Chau.
13:30 -14:00 Take a bike to explore the rice fields and limestone mountains with a unique route. See farmers working in fields, visit surrounding peaceful villages such as Pom Coong Village, Lac Village, Nhot Village, Na Phon Village.
15:30 Explore the daily life of the Thai minority and maintain their ancient traditions and customs. You will visit an ethnic minority family in Mai Chau. Mrs. Mang's family is a local artisan with ingenuity and meticulousness who has preserved and developed the traditional embroidery and weaving craft of the Thai ethnic group. The products made entirely by hand are very delicate, with the typical floral patterns and motifs of the mountainous ethnic minorities in Vietnam.
16:00 Depart for Pu Luong Nature Reserve, which will take an hour by special-use car along narrow roads through terraced rice fields.
17:00 Check-in and relaxing, dinner at a restaurant with Vietnamese cuisine, and overnight at Pu Luong.
07:00 – 08:00 Have breakfast.
09:00 Following the small roads, we will visit remote, hidden villages such as Kho Muong Village to learn about the local people in Pu Luong. This is a common and easy walk around the most beautiful valley of rice terraces.
Explore Doi Cave (Bat cave), this is the largest cave in Pu Luong, the spot is created by thousands of great blocks of limestone having existed for 250 million years. There are thousands of stalactites in peculiar shapes showing how magic nature is. Taking steps beside these cliffs and descending deep into the heart of the cave, travellers will be rewarded with a feeling of excitement by the beautiful stones and the sound of water dripping down from the ceiling.
12:00 Enjoy lunch at local restaurant with local cuisine with foods provided by ethnic minorities.
14:30 Trek to Uoi and Lan Villages this is a common and easy walk around the most beautiful valley of rice terraces. Then you will walk through small paths shrouded in vegetation to slowly reveal a picturesque Uoi village sitting at the base of a towering mountain. Your camera will not be able to remain still when you see the panorama view of the village from above. Continue walking down the hill and visit Lan village. If time permits, we will visit a local family where we can learn about their traditional brocade weaving. After that you will take you back to your accommodation.
17:00 Arrive at bungalow/retreat, enjoy swimming in the infinity pool and relax after a long day trek.
18:30 – 19:00 Have dinner at the local restaurant and enjoy some local rice wine. Have a quiet night in the middle of the Reserve.
07:00 Breakfast and check out.
08:00 The van will take you to the local market in Pho Doan "only on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday morning". Pho Don Fair is the place to exchange, buy, and sell products of the Kinh, Muong, and Thai people. They come from surrounding communes in Ba Thuoc District, Tan Lac, and Lac Son districts of Hoa Binh Province as well.
09:30 Take a bike and start riding. Follow the small road and trail through the terraced rice fields and jungle to reach Hieu Waterfall, which is known as one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Pu Luong because of its wild scenery.
12:00 - 12:30 You will enjoy lunch with local cuisine on a traditional bamboo raft on a stream with beautiful natural scenery.
14:00 Leave Puluong and go back to Hanoi; on the way, you will stop at the stunning water wheels. Get up close to each wheel and discover how water is moved from rivers to handmade bamboo aqueducts via simple constructions of all sizes.
18:30 - 19:00 Arrive in Hanoi, we will drop you off at your hotel or private address. Tour ends.
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